TORONTO — Jane Fonda made headlines this week after she opened up to an audience of activists and philanthropists in California about her Canadian mother’s sexual abuse and suicide.
But it wasn’t the first time Fonda talked about her mother’s pain.
“It damaged her life forever,” the actress said. “She was never able to really love or not to feel guilty.”
Fonda also said her mother Frances Ford Seymour killed herself at 42 “and those two things are related.”
At an event on Sept. 28 in Beverly Hills marking the 40th anniversary of the Rape Treatment Center, Fonda explained she learned about her mother’s sexual abuse while reviewing medical records.
“The minute that I read that, everything fell into place,” Fonda recalled. “I knew why the promiscuity, the endless plastic surgery, the guilt, the inability to love or be intimate, and I was able to forgive her and forgive myself.”
Fonda, 76, was introduced at the Beverly Hills luncheon by her friend and 9 to 5 co-star Lily Tomlin. Toronto-born actor Eric McCormack was another speaker at the event.
Seymour, who was born in Brockville, Ont. in 1908, was the second wife of actor Henry Fonda. According to Jane Fonda’s 2005 memoir My Life So Far, Seymour had a history of mental illness. She took her life — when Jane was only 12 — while a patient at a mental health facility in Beacon, New York.
“Mother wrote six notes,” Fonda recalled in the book. “Then she went into her bathroom … carefully withdrew the razor she’d managed to keep hidden, and cut her throat.”
If you, a family member or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, or you believe they may be suffering from severe depression and/or anxiety, there are many organizations available to help including the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
– with files by The Associated Press